How hard is it to make remakes, really? Agneepath, the original, released in 1990 and bombed at the Box Office but was critically acclaimed by a lot of people leading to Amitabh Bachchan winning a national award for his flamboyant portrayal of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, as a gangster with the swagger to mock the world and take his revenge with the villain. The original is deemed as a bit of a "cult film" or an "ahead of its time" kinda film now but I feel it was a standard revenge drama executed with much more panache and much less sleaze than what was prevalent in that era. Nevertheless, Bachchans performance and dialogues definitely became a cult. When you make a remake, people constantly pitch it against the original if they have seen it. Those who havent, definitely want to see something new and a serving well above the general serving of films coming out these days to like it, hence the original will need to be ironed, glossed and oiled. But again, it may qualify as 'tampering' with the original and be written off on the note "people should not remake classics" by cantankerous ‘protectors of cult films’. Dharma Productions head honcho, Karan Johar and director Karan Malhotra decided to walk the thin line and pay a fitting tribute to their original production, almost!
After being heavily marketed as a hard-hitting drama, from the cuts of the promos to the one-liners used in them, this remake is definitely loaded with copious amount of action and fair number of gore sequences. Most definitely, this one is not everyone's cup of tea but despite a few hiccups, it still has its heart at the right place. Director Karan Malhotra along with his co-writer Ila Dutta Bedi are in awe of the original Agneepath but manage to pay an appreciable ode to it by completely re-interpreting the story, adapting it to a different structuring of characters and re-bottling the old-fashioned revenge drama with a lot of fizz. The technical aspects only add to the flavor of the final product. This one comes with an inherent rawness, a stronger emotional undercurrent and gritty action sequences that are more ‘in your face’. Malhotra manages to keep a check on a lot of things barring the length and the melodrama in his debut venture and should definitely be applauded for attempting this one.
Malhotra's screenplay comes with some potholes but then mass entertainers are meant to be seen with a pinch of salt. Although garishly served, this one does not replace script with style, thankfully. The plot is uncomplicated but the journey of revenge becomes endearing due to its execution. The problem with the screenplay is that a couple of characters are under-written. Priyanka Chopra's character Kaali is merely there to cheer up Vijay (Hrithik), do all the dance numbers and not make any sense. Inspector Gaitonde (Om Puri) suffers from an underdeveloped sub plot, again. All the songs except for one (Abhi Mujhme Kahin) are not required in the screenplay but the writers still chose to keep them. However, the biggest problem with the film is that its tediously long and obnoxiously melodramatic at times. The first 45 minutes are wasted on Vijay's childhood and the final film stands at a staggering 2 hours and 50 plus minutes. The audience is bound to lose its patience even if the drama is engrossing. There are just too many melodramatic emotional sequences, too long, too clichéd and too syrupy. The editor Akiv Ali had no idea what he was doing or maybe he was forced to keep all the crap.
What could have been a shoddy mess of a remake due to its loosely bound screenplay and sometimes lazy cheesy dialogues (Piyush Mishra), turns out to be an above average fare owing to its unabashed action sequences (Abbas Ali Moghul), more-than-perfect production design (Sabu Cyril), magnificent cinematography (Ravi K Chandran, Kiran Deohans) and the fact that Malhotra manages to extract riveting performances from his leads (Hrithik, Sanjay and Rishi). The Background Score adds to the hard treatment of this action drama but turns out to be overtly loud and cacophonic at times, else it would have been one more factor that enhances this movie coupled with an on-point Sound Design. Music is already a hit and definitely a winner but the songs are not required in this fast paced uncomplicated storyline.
Sanjay Dutt. I honestly never considered him to be an actor. I feel Vaastav was something that was natural to him and in Munnabhai, he never lived upto the ingenuous script, atleast not for me. With Agneepath, the guy has forced me to change my opinion with his motivated portrayal of Kancha, the villain. All that fat and those baggy eyes definitely have a much higher potential that has never been explored better. As Kancha, he is cynical, menacing and overpowering. His creepy looks work well and he looks like a giant in some of the action sequences in his village, Mandwa. Kudos to him for putting in an earnest effort and successfully portraying what could possibly be his career best. Rishi Kapoor delivers an unprecedented performance as a villain too. His performance will stay with you for long as he has never done anything like this. The guy is a pure genius. Priyanka Chopra and Om Puri are wasted. Chetan Pandit is allright. A special mention for the guy who plays young Vijay for his assertive performance. Zarina Wahab is typical and sappy and Vijay's sister plays to the part well.
However, its one guy whose performance stands tall and a small notch above everyone else. Hrithik Roshan. He growls, kicks, punches, laughs, weeps, sweats, bleeds – he gives it his all and restructures Vijay's character as a more rooted, emotional guy who still does not have any qualms of doing the wrong in order to achieve his final motive of revenge. He displays a rare vulnerability and gushes with rage at the same time, with much less flamboyance than Bachchan, which erects the distinctiveness of this character. His sincere performance redefines Agneepath and goes down as my personal favorite in his career.
Raw. Massy. Obnoxious. Thats how I would describe Agneepath. You could get absorbed in the power packed sequence of events or get annoyed with the loud melodrama. Nevertheless, its still works as a fitting adaptation of the original due to many reasons. Its just one of those films that could be made so much better just by re-editing it. The team definitely deserves a huge applause for getting most of the things right. The films has already broken the first-day record in its collections and it is bound to touch the Rs 100Cr mark. The Box Office was never a question. Even if you are tired by the length of the movie, its still worth a watch.
Rating - 3.5/5